A Dog Park Morning

Long time no chat!

All is well here. We’ve been busy with moving into our new house, unpacking, shopping for accessories, and hanging artwork. I’ll post pictures soon.

My hiatus from the interweb was due to a lack of Internet at our friends’ house. They didn’t have it at their house while we were living there, and I managed to use up 75% of my internet data in seven days. Truth be told, I kind of enjoyed the break from Facebook, Instagram, reading blogs and blogging myself.

This morning, Finley, the dogs and I made a trip to a dog park in Middleton close to our new house.

I bundled Finley up in her Patagonia fleece (it’s a little big still) and her new See Kai Run kicks. It was only 47 degrees when we got there, and I didn’t want her to be cold.

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The dogs had lots of fun at this park. It was our second time here, and the loop around the park is about three minutes longer than the loop at the Token Creek dog park we used to frequent.

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It wasn’t too long before I took off my scarf and unzipped my hoodie. The first part of the loop is downhill (if you walk counterclockwise), but then the other side is all uphill (duh).

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Pushing a 26 pound toddler and the Bob up that will make even the fittest person sweat. I counted this as my workout for the day.

The views are quite pretty as well.

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Now the dogs are tired, Finley is napping, and I got in a shower. It’s been a good morning.

Happy Friday!

Finley Photo Dump vol. VIII

It’s been a long time since one of these posts. So why not today?

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An afternoon at the splash pad in Fitchburg

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A picnic lunch on the Capitol lawn

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Playing at Prairie Kids Club

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Crawling into everything, including Brooks’ car seat

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Family selfie in front of our old house

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So serious but adorable

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Copying mama and carrying around a “purse”

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Enjoying a Jammy Sammy (by Plum Organics) for a snack

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Picking tomatoes

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Friday play group

Have a wonderful Saturday!

A Weekend in DC

Good morning!

I’ve got some free time while all the kiddos (Finley plus the two I watch a couple days a week) sleep and wanted to share our weekend trip to DC.

We flew in late Thursday night, and Finley fell asleep sprawled out across our laps. She stayed asleep in our arms as we got off the plane and walked to get our bags.

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Erin and Dan have a one bedroom condo and were kind enough to give us their bedroom for the weekend. Erin’s friend loaned us all the baby gear we needed (pack n play, car seat, high chair, etc), and the pack n play was already set up in their bedroom.

Friday morning began around 7:15am (Finley slept in!!!). Erin and Dan both had to work, so the morning was ours. Brody, Finley and I walked to Starbucks and Target and then strolled around for a bit.

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Erin was able to come home early, so we went to lunch with her. We drove to Union Market.

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What a cool place! There were lots of food vendors and “stores” set up inside. Brody got a burger, Finley ordered a grilled cheese, and Erin and I had Korean tacos. Yum!

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We hung out at their condo for the rest of the day. We drank, relaxed on the couch, watched Finley chase Chester, and ate dinner on the back patio.

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Saturday morning, Finley woke us up before 7am, and to let Erin and Dan sleep a little more, we took a walk to Starbucks (basically the only coffee shop open before 8am – crazy!!!) and a bakery for croissants.

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After her (and my) morning nap, Finley took her first ever train ride.

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We took the train to a BBQ place. I had the BBQ Chef Salad because it had four kinds of meat on it – the perfect sampler!

Next up was the zoo. Unfortunately the rain cut our stay there short, but we still had fun seeing elephants, gorillas, and pandas. It was even one of the pandas first birthdays.

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We decided to walk back to the condo from the zoo even though it was still raining. Finley didn’t mind, and we were already wet from being at the zoo. At the condo, everyone napped. Yes, that means I took two naps on Saturday. Pretty amazing vacation, right?

Once again, we stayed at the condo for the rest of the day and had a delicious meal.

On Sunday our flight didn’t leave until 2pm, so we spent the morning being lazy and eating eggs and bacon.

The flight home went just fine. The problems arose once we got back to our car in Milwaukee. The battery was dead, and we couldn’t find the parking ticket. Yikes! My smart husband called the airport’s information desk, who sent out a guy with jumper cables. He was at our car in two minutes, and a few minutes later, the car was running. Phew! Then, while Brody packed the car, I searched by the driver’s seat for the ticket. And I found it! Phew again! Two potentially pricey mishaps avoided.

It was a fabulous trip and so good to spend time with Erin and Dan!

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My Unwarranted Advice for Soon-to-be Moms

A handful of my friends are pregnant right now. Some with their first, and some with their second. I love talking about all things pregnancy and baby related, and I realized I had never done a post like this before. While I am far from an expert, here are my two unwarranted cents.

1. Read The Happiest Baby on the Block before Baby is born. Read it again after Baby is born. A friend recommended this book to Brody, and I am SO thankful. It was an invaluable resource and helped prepare us for making Finley comfortable in her new, scary environment (aka the world and not the uterus). I suggest reading it after Baby’s birth because you’ll likely have missed or forgotten something, or it will just make more sense now with a tiny being in front of you.

2. Attend a mother baby hour from early on and as long as you can. When Finley was three weeks, I went to Meriter’s (my hospital) weekly meeting for first time mamas. There are three groups: 0-3, 3-6, and 6-9 months. I went almost every week and looked forward to each meeting. I found it to be a safe place to talk about my struggles and ask questions. So many moms were going through similar things, or had recently gone through it, and I learned a lot from them and the nurse who facilitated the meetings. A group of about twenty moms formed a Friday play group so that we could continue to get together past nine months, let our kids play, and be there for each other.

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Finley at one of her last Mother Baby Hours

3. This one is quite trivial but enjoy your thick, luscious hair during pregnancy and for the first few months post birth. Because it’s going to fall out. As someone with thin hair, I loved this part of pregnancy. Thanks to the extra estrogen in our bodies, the hair follicles hold on to the hair you’d normally lose. So when your hair starts coming out and clogging the shower drain, it’s releasing all the hair it’s been hanging on to for over a year. I’ve also been dealing with awkward re-growth of hair on the top of my scalp.

4. Don’t become obsessed with napping like I did. Looking back, I see how much energy I wasted regarding Finley’s napping. Finley was never a bad sleeper (although she had her rough patches like all babies). There’s so much I could say here, but I won’t. I only wish I would’ve been more “go with the flow” and not have been so much of a nap slave. (Do you feel the same way Jena?)

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Sleepy baby

5. You don’t need to change Baby’s diaper very often in the night. For the first few weeks of Finley’s life, I changed her diaper every time she got up in the middle of the night. This would often extend her time awake and make her upset (cold air, cold wipes, etc). I finally learned that unless the diaper is soiled or she’s had it on for a long time, it’s unnecessary to change it.

6. Leave Baby with your partner overnight as soon as you’re ready. Or maybe sooner. I went on a girls weekend trip for two nights to Lake Geneva (an hour and a half away) when Finley was four months old. Brody stayed home with Finley, and he did awesome. I appreciated and needed the break from my role as a mommy.

7. Consider joining Netflix. This was something Brody told a couple recently, so I’m stealing it for this list. Newborns sleep A LOT. I watched the first season of Orange is the New Black in a few days. This winter, we watched all seven seasons of The West Wing.

8. Make as many freezer meals as you can before Baby is born. Even though babies sleep a lot early on, you’ll often be so exhausted that cooking is not appealing. I spent Finley’s naps cleaning, napping myself, or *gasp* relaxing (reading or watching tv). Freezer meals that involve a slow cooker would be ideal. A simple search on online (or even my blog!) will provide lots of options.

9. Keep food and water next to the chair where you feed your baby. I was hungry and thirsty all the time when Finley was first born. Before Finley went to sleep, I’d put an extra water bottle and a small snack (trail mix, Larabar-like balls, etc) next to the rocker.

10. Find a babysitter you trust and use him/her to go on date nights with your partner. Or get a haircut by yourself. We left Finley with a babysitter for an afternoon when she was six weeks old. That may be earlier than some parents are ready for, but we felt confident in our sitter and weren’t going to be far from home. A former neighbor of ours recommended our sitter, who recently graduated from college, and her mom lived across the street from us. I know other moms have had luck with care.com and the UW Job Center website (if you love in the Madison area, but I bet other colleges have something similar). If you’re lucky enough to have family members in the area, take advantage of when they offer to watch your little one.

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Brody and I at a wedding sans baby

Questions:
What was some good or bad advice you were given about pregnancy or babies?
How have you helped a new mama out during those first few months?

High School Friends Reunion

When I left for college, I remember being told my life-long friends would be college friends, not those from high school. They were so wrong.

No matter how much time goes by, when I see my friends from high school, it’s like we were all together yesterday. *Luckily, this is also the case with my college friends.

On Friday night, I went over to Kelly’s apartment and spent a couple hours drinking wine with her and Ashley, who had driven in from the Chicago area.

By Saturday, everyone was in town and ready to get the weekend started. We met for lunch at The Free House in Middleton (which is only a couple miles from our temporary house). I brought Finley who was so well behaved; she ate a ton of food, didn’t need her paci once, and was happy being held by all my friends.

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Everyone shared the details about the big things going on in their lives:

Rena: Getting married in July!!!
Jeana: Pregnant with baby #2, who she announced is a boy!!!
Susan: Also pregnant with baby #2!!! She doesn’t know the sex yet.
Ashley: Recently moved into a new house!!! She stays busy with boys who are 14 month apart.
Bree: Her and the hubby have lots of home projects and have a wedding planning business. They’re so crafty!!!
Kelly: This ambitious friend of mine has her own dental practice!!!

Next up were mani/pedis. My feet needed some loving, so I was super excited for this part of the weekend. I made reservations for everyone at KLC Nail and Spa on Odana, and like the other time I went there, it was great. They even do a paraffin wax treatment on your feet.

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After the pampering, we went our separate ways to get ready for a night out. Susan was our DD for the night, so she picked me up, and we made our way downtown.

A visit to the Terrace was a must, and we all shared a pitcher of Spotted Cow. It was busy, but that’s to be expected for a Saturday night.

For dinner we had reservations at Eldorado Grill. I’ve been there a lot recently, but I’m not complaining. As always, I started out with a blackberry margarita. Mmmm… For dinner, and after LOTS of chips and salsa, I had fish tacos. They were very good. Oh, and I had a second margarita.

Bree swore Weary Traveler was only a couple blocks away, but it ended up being more of a walk. I didn’t mind, though; a walk after the big meal felt good. Once we got there, we saw Jolly Bob‘s across the street and decided that’d be a better spot. Ashley persuaded the bouncer to let us all in for $12 instead of $5/person.

Jolly Bob’s has a beautiful back patio, so we ordered drinks, a Painkiller for me, and found a table. Some guy ended up buying us a round of Lemon Drops. I hadn’t taken a shot in such a long time, and I’m not a huge fan, but this shot is actually a favorite.

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The last stop of the night was Weary Traveler across the street. I had my last drink of the night (some ginger concoction) and we played Cards Against Humanity, which is the best game ever.

We were out until 2am! Of course, Finley decided to start the day at 5:45am. My amazing husband got up with her and I slept in until 8:30am.

To finish out the weekend, Jeana had everyone (except Susan who went back to her dad’s in Oshkosh) over for brunch. Finley had fun playing with Avery, and us ladies chatted away.

I have awesome friends.

Pasta Cooking Class

Brody and I took a break from packing and stressing about our housing situation to make pasta. Finley stayed home with a babysitter, and we did some eating of gluten and drinking of booze. It was fun!

At a charity event for Make a Wish months ago, we went in with two other couples for a silent auction item: a pasta cooking class at A Pig in a Fur Coat. The class was for up to fifteen people, but we ended up having ten. Brody and I had eaten there once before and loved it, so we were excited to learn from a professional how to make a food we don’t eat anymore. Ha! But it’s not like we can’t and won’t eat pasta anymore; we just do in very sparingly.

A Pig in a Fur Coat recently finished the space behind the restaurant. We were technically their guinea pigs, as we were the first class they taught. Chef Dan shared a little about his background in the food business, and then we got going.

First we made the dough and let it rest for a bit. To make the pasta, we split into boys and girls. There was butternut squash ravioli, ricotta ravioli, and something similar to linguine.

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We watched Chef Dan cook our pasta, and he showed us the sauces each would be paired with. The pesto smelled incredible! We learned he doesn’t put pinenuts in his pesto. The brown butter sage sauce smelled heavenly, and it was so easy to make. The third, a simple tomato sauce, was very fresh.

A table in the actual restaurant was set up for us to eat the pasta we made. Chef Dan also brought out bread with chorizo and an heirloom tomato salad. It was a delicious mid-afternoon meal. Our babysitter had mentioned that she loved their fries (cooked in duck fat!), so I put in an order for those. Everything was so yummy! The three glasses of wine I drank while there weren’t too shabby either.

To continue the afternoon of fun, we moved the party to Old Sugar Distillery. We’ve been there a handful of times already, and they make a mean cocktail. They have outdoor seating as well. I ordered the Honey Cap – so good.

Brody and I got home at 6pm to a very happy Finley. She was in such a good mood! Although she was a little crabby after we left, she took a great nap for Emma and woke up smiling.

Finley went to sleep around 7pm, and Brody and I continued our gluttonous ways and ate Salvatore’s pizza for dinner.

It was a very nice day.

I Whine for a Bit and Then List Ten Happies (not a real word)

Like everyone, I’m in shock that it’s August already. In my previous life as an English teacher, this is when I would start to freak out/get excited about the beginning of a new school year. I’d be planning units, getting my classroom ready, and reconnecting with colleagues. I miss that. Whoa – I didn’t intend for this post to get all down-in-the-dumps so quickly, but it’s been a little rough around here lately.

Big “first world problems” happening in our household. For one, as I explained already, we sold our house. Fast. Now we don’t have a new house to move into…that is unless you count our friends’ basement. We’ve been packing up the last seven years of our lives, and our dining and living rooms are filled with boxes. The walls are empty and closets are half full. It’s sad, but I’m okay. We are so incredible fortunate to have amazing friends who have offered up space in their house to live and/or store some of our belongings that we don’t want in storage.

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This week, we were THIS close to having a great house. The house was on the market last year, didn’t sell, and was for sale again. We put in a few informal offers, and it seemed like she may accept. Then she changed her mind. And then we almost had it again. And then she said she was going to take it off the market. Hope, sadness, hope, sadness. After this last rejection, Brody and I have both moved on and realized this house will not be our forever home.

Our options now are to either wait for a house (in our price range that we like) to come on the market in the one neighborhood (fully developed, elementary school, pool, sidewalks, green space, etc.) we like, or build in a different neighborhood (which is also a really nice area but still being developed obviously). If we build and commit by September 1, the house would be complete by January 15. Such big decisions.

Another “first world problem” we’re dealing with is Finley. Oh my. Fevers, crabbiness, runny noses, night wakings, and did I mention crabbiness? I keep reminding myself of how horrible she must feel. I’ve heard that if adults experienced the pain babies feel when their teeth come in, we’d all be on high strength pain killers.

There have been some very good moments too in the past couple weeks. It’s not like me to be such a Debbie Downer, so here are ten awesome things about my life:

1. Finley is becoming a walker! It’s so cool to see her moving like a person.

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2. We took a family trip to the zoo (on Finley’s super crabby day), and we had a great time. It’s some good and interesting people watching there on the weekends! Finley seemed to like the ostrich the most.

3. As we pack, we’ve also been purging. Lots of trips to Goodwill and lots of crap thrown away (we bought a Bagster and will have Waste Management pick it up before we move).

4. I’ve had a few good long runs alone and with friends. However, Brody and I have decided to not run the Madison Mini anymore. This was going to be a race we ran together, and with him getting sick and injured and us moving, we’re not ready. We’d like to do a fall half marathon instead.

5. My mom sold her condo and is moving up north to the cottage permanently. She’s officially retired and will be living in a beautiful house on the best lake ever.

6. I made a delicious dinner two nights ago: PaleOMG’s Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs. The sauce is ridiculous. If I wasn’t trying to clean out the random food in my freezer, I’d buy more pork and curry powder and make it again soon.

7. Finley loves her Radio Flyer. Every time we walk past it in the garage, she points and grunts. She holds on to the handlebars, and it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

8. Starbuck’s iced caramel machiaccto with whole milk = yum. I crave these all the time. I mean, why wouldn’t I? It’s the perfect combination of sugar, fat, and caffeine.

9. Today Brody and I are taking a pasta cooking class at A Pig in a Fur Coat with a bunch of other friends. We went in with two other couples and bid on the class through a raffle at a charity event. Yes, I know pasta is a grain and not Paleo/Primal. It’s a conscious cheat and will be worth it.

10.¬†I read a book! My friend loaned me A Fault in Our Stars, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read a book for MONTHS (my previous English teacher self is scolding current SAHM self), and how I missed it. I once owned this book, but a student borrowed it and never returned it.¬†Anyways, I’d like to see the movie now. Ha! Like that’ll happen.

Happy Saturday folks! Have a good weekend!

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From Conception to Reality

No, I’m not pregnant. I know that’s probably what you were thinking when you saw the title. However, what is happening in my life right now feels similar to pregnancy. Let me explain.

Brody and I bought our house just over seven years ago. He had finished law school a year before, and I was wrapping up student teaching. We only looked at a few houses, found this one, and bought it for the asking price. That was May 2007. And then the recession hit.

When we bought the house, we didn’t think about how long we’d be in it, the school district, etc. We liked it, so we bought it. Now with two large dogs, a kid, and me watching other littles, more space would be nice. Also, we enjoy hosting our families for holidays and would like to have enough bedrooms for most of them.

So, after talking about it for a year, we put our house on the market.

On Tuesday, July 1, it went “live” (i.e. It was on MLS).

On Thursday, July 3, the sign in the front yard went up.

On Tuesday, July 8, we had our second ever showing.

On Thursday, July 10, we had an offer (from the second showing people).

Now here’s my pregnancy analogy:

When I took the pregnancy test and it was positive, it was such a unique feeling. I (and if I can speak for Brody too) was excited, scared, happy, and lots of other emotions. When Brody told me we had an offer, I felt almost the same way. Up until that moment, selling and moving had been a topic of discussion, an idea. Now, it was happening. Life was going to change.

With this big moment, however, came some sadness. I’ll miss neighbors, the comfort of our space, being close to good friends in Sun Prairie and lots of stores, the PAC, and even the three mile running loop I’ve done a gazillion times.

The selling of our house is moving (pun intended) along well. The inspection is happening right now, and the appraisal is this afternoon. We’ll be (again, hopefully) closing August 18 with a move out date of August 15. Obviously it’s not sold until then, and I’m aware offers can fall through. I don’t even want to think about that, though.

Aside from the shock and stress of selling our house so quickly, we have no new house to move into. Brody is exploring temporary housing options, and we’ll continue to look at houses that come on the market in our desired area. Unfortunately, lots of the houses in our price range and with our must-haves have sold in the past couple months, and the rate of new houses for sale is slowing down. As many people have told us, this is a good problem to have. I don’t like “good” problems.

So that’s where I’m at. Many of you who know me in real life may not know this was going on. It’s been such a whirlwind that I’ve been horrible at returning calls (Claire, Susan, and Tina – I’m sorry!!!). Also, I think Brody and I haven’t wanted to jinx anything by sharing via FB.

Things will work out, and like my friend Jena said, one day we’ll look back at this time and say “Remember when…”

And just because, here are a few Finley pictures.

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Another Cottage Weekend

The weather this past weekend was SO much nicer than two weeks ago, and Finley was able to get into the lake and enjoy the water. Yah lake baby!

She kayaked…

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and floated…

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and played on the beach.

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She also ate yummy food (pretty much all fruit) al fresco…

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and enjoyed an adult beverage (she didn’t drink any).

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Brody and I got our long run in while we were up there also. We ran from the cottage to and around Paya Lake and back, which was almost eight miles. I could tell within the first minute that I was going to have a good run, and I did. It was hilly, but it’s good training because our area here is so flat. This was the first run where we took fuel; we took turns holding the handheld water bottle filled with Blueberry Pomegranate GU Brew drink mix, and then at 4.5 miles, we ate our GUs.

The only negative parts of the weekend were Finley’s sleeping (fighting naps and night wakings) and Frankie puking (he must’ve eaten something funky Thursday night). Otherwise we had a fantastic time!

Eating Paleo/Primal

The first time I heard about Paleo was about four (or more?) years ago. Brody’s buddy from Chicago was visiting and had started doing this crazy workout called Crossfit and not eating grains. Say what? I recall being baffled by the “diet” and I likely told him I could never do that.

Then, just over a year ago, our friends, Mel and Tim (the couple I trained for the marathon with) started eating this way. I still could not see myself ever giving up bread (what would I have for breakfast?!?!), pasta, or pita chips.

This spring, a few things led to Brody and I overhauling our diet:

1) I became more knowledgeable about eating grains and gluten. I listen to the Balanced Bites podcast every week (often while I’m driving or working out), I read Eat the Yolks, and I subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple.

2) Our friends Bridget and JP did a vegan cleanse in the late winter as part of Bridget’s yoga teacher training. This inspired Brody to do something similar.

3) This was a tough winter, and although I was able to get to the gym and do at-home workouts regularly, Brody struggled to find time to exercise. Finley goes to bed at 7pm, and Brody would go in to work by 6:45/7am most days so he could be home by 5:30pm to see Finley. Come spring, he wasn’t feeling healthy.

4) Brody went to Texas for the Final Four games. At this point, we had been tossing around the idea of going Paleo/Primal for a couple months. I had actually already begun to cut out a good amount of grains from my diet, but Brody had not. While he was gone, he asked me to purge our house.

I’ve learned that my body actually handles gluten quite well. While in Switzerland, I experienced almost no side effects of eating bread or pasta. Brody, on the other hand, definitely feels it. As I mentioned in one of the Switzerland recaps, he had horrible stomach cramps our fifth day there. They started the day after a big pasta dinner, and probably all of the bread finally caught up to him.

Because I believe my body does okay with grains (as far as I can tell), I follow more of an 80/20 approach. I may have a piece of sprouted toast for breakfast or some pasta salad at a friend’s happy hour. Also, Brody and I made the decision to eat dairy, so I guess some people may not consider our diet Paleo/Primal.

Here’s a typical day of eats:

6:30am: two eggs fried in bacon fat, a piece of GF banana bread, and a cup or so of fruit

10:00am: a quick snack, maybe some mixed nuts or a Fage yogurt

12:00pm: leftovers from last night’s dinner, so often meat and roasted veggies, sometimes half an avocado, and another serving of fruit

4:00pm: another small snack such as a few chunks of cheese

6:00pm: a meat (flank steak, roasted chicken) and a vegetable (roasted broccoli or asparagus, baked potato)

8:00pm: a few pieces of dark chocolate

Brody’s daily eats are a little different from mine because he’s at work and going out to lunch every day. For breakfast, he eats a Larabar, and apple, and a yogurt. He keeps pistachios, cheese, and beef jerky at work for snacks or lunch in a pinch. Most days he has a salad for lunch. He’s then home for dinner for whatever I prepare.

Finley also doesn’t eat too many grains since we don’t have much in the house. She eats meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and yogurt. We do give her plain Cheerios and occasionally some Annie’s cheddar bunnies. She also had Annie’s mac and cheese this week for the first time and loved it. I’d say she’s about 80/20 Paleo also.

I’m not a strict Paleo/Primal eater, but I’m feeling good about the food I’m putting into my body. Along with changing our diet, I’ve started buying better quality meat and eggs. When I can get to Whole Foods, I load up on meat and freeze it. Otherwise my grocery store carries Strauss meats (in the frozen section), so I’ve been using their ground pork and chicken for recipes. I now buy Phil’s eggs, and at $2.69 a dozen, it’s not too pricey. Buying organic produce (probably because eat so much of it, which would be an argument either way) is still a struggle for me, so as of now, we eat mostly conventional.

Speaking of money, I don’t follow a weekly or monthly food budget, so I can’t say for certain how much more we’re spending, but it doesn’t feel like much more. No longer do I buy three 12-packs of soda at a time, crackers, or bread. As someone told me when I started eating this way, “You can pay for it now, or you can pay for it later.”

It’s been a whole lot easier than I ever thought it would be, and I don’t see us ever going back to being a grain-eating family again. As Mel just told me at lunch today, “You can’t unknow what you know.”